One Black Swan (pt 6)
When I got back to my starting place
the old man asked how I’d done.
I said it had been interesting, I was glad that I had come.
Now that I’d found my cursed treasure
I’d like to come back as often as I could.
He said I would be welcome - good weather -
anytime as long as it was light.
Some come in the winter, too.
Of the Show or Tell I was considering - definitely not both -
I asked if Indian points turned up here, too.
Yup, he said, they do.
They show up in the woods and fields,
but never in the cliffs, of course, and unlikely on the beach.
Algonquian and Piscataway, both long gone Iroquois,
all around these parts.
Sometimes they wash down.
I’ve got a few in here.
He showed them to me.
Generically familiar, specifically different.
I never brought the subject up again.
I’d caught my quota for the day.
I needed information and didn’t know who’d have it -
I’d have to beat the bushes for educated guesses
from any valid source -
there had to be a few -
anyone ahead of me in various specialties:
the history of the earth for one - geology,
earth’s fossil record - paleontology,
and closer to us - perhaps too close: archaeology:
prehistoric peoples from study of their artifacts.
I’d settle for a master-mind, an earthy Einstein.
I’d have to learn enough to follow
what I hoped they might be teaching me.
I had a large advantage: a native sense of logic,
aka: a shit detector.
I thought I’d best avoid psychiatry.
Next time there I came prepared to explore in earnest,
limiting myself to best specimens of each type
matching pictures in the books
for a private inventory of what I could not resist
and to learn the names of things,
establishing validity though this was a sideline now,
a front for my frequent presence.
I put my greed behind me.
I wanted only one of each for my tactile education.
I also brought things home to test the spell
that clung to the fossils like an odor,
the way their presence stayed with me.
Back in their habitat there was no mistaking it,
but at this distance it became so faint and thin
I was never certain.
One day yes, the next I was less sure.
There were lots of maybes.
Despite my fretfulness I found my “dig” with ease.
That had worried me, cost some sleep.
I had my camera and binoculars,
and my best prospecting tool:
a long handled mountain pick - rock hammer on a stick -
to extend my reach and flick my finds
from wherever they might be sighted
up in the cliffside as high as I can reach
without disturbing it - or me.
I did not intend to climb or die -
It’s also good to ferret out the beach
and eliminate some bending over.
I still take a bag or two,
a compromise between discipline and addiction.
My site was each time as I had left it.
I would bring lunch and a small camp chair,
then scan the coarse, uneven face methodically
first focusing on my “mother” lode and then expanding.
This was more than looking, inspecting was more like it,
examining in sharp detail.
Having seen all that I could see from one location
to the edge of clarity
I’d move to the right or left never skipping over anything.
A mosaic for the eye, with no piece missing, however small.
I kept a photographic log and reviewed it at my leisure.
Before moving on each time I’d walk up to it
as close as I could get, look it over face-to-face,
rub my hand on it, offering blood sacrifice again
if it should come to that.
On the posted private land
I tried to stay below the high tide line diplomatically;
on public property I worked closer to the cliff.
Whenever something caught my eye, magnetized attention,
I’d risk confrontation with those on their side of their fences.
Trespassing was a misdemeanor with possible fine and jail time.
I might need to plead with silver tongue to sympathetic ear,
if it ever came to that; it hadn’t.
I’d be happy to sign a liability waiver should it be tendered.
I could not state my true mission.